How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
My earliest work (from when I learned how to write, up through middle school) was all about myself, friends and family in strange situations. My little sister would be in a fairy tale, or my friends and I would be super cool and adored by the popular guys (all with aliases, of course). The biggest change in my writing was when it became about strangers. I’m sure my characters are still mostly me and my loved ones cobbled together into strange people.
What have you written so far?
My first book, The Truth About Humans, and my second book, Mistress of Magic, were both published this year. I’ve always worked on many things at a time and those two were the first to be completed. I have about ten novels in my writing folder, all at different stages of completion. It keeps things fresh and moving.
Do you work to an outline or plot sketch, or do you prefer to let a general idea guide your writing?
I always let the idea guide me. It’s more exciting for me when the story works itself out of my head. Ideas often surprise me, and I think, I can’t believe I thought of this!
Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?
Mistress of Magic is about Grace, a seventeen-year-old apprentice to a powerful sorceress. She’s lonely and miserable, though, because she isn’t able to work magic at all and the residents of the mansion shun her for it. When Grace’s power awakens, other things awaken in her life: her blanket, which she names Rose, and friendships with the gruff servant, Goliath, and the cursed tree outside her window.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
My favorite has to be Goliath. Grace first thinks he’s a grumpy brute but his character is illuminated bit by bit; ever changing.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I loved playing with the idea that appearances are never what they seem. The book is full of misjudgments on Grace’s part because she’s so concerned with the way she and others look.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I love writing conversations and interactions between characters, but describing the setting is a challenge. Settings aren’t all that interesting to me. I’m much more interested in relationships than the color of the wallpaper, so I have to constantly remind myself that the world in my head won’t exist for anyone else if it’s not down on paper.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?
I’d say Diana Wynne Jones and Piers Anthony have been my biggest influences. Ai Yazawa’s manga also left a huge impression on me. I’m still hungry for an end to her manga, Nana.
What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?
You cannot please everyone. You can toil for years and one review can shred your book (and heart) to pieces. Just make sure you love your work. Make sure that when you read it, you get excited. Let it be something that you can love, even when no one else does.
Tell us something unique about you.
Well, it’s not really unique, but I used to play the bass in a band called The Minus Men. It was a fun (crazy) time in my life. I still write music, play a few instruments and sing. I do session work on Fiverr.com and have worked on songs for people in New Zealand, England, Scotland, Africa, and countless other spots across the globe.
Want to learn more about Leah and her work?